Annie and Hannah have not seen each other in the six years since they left University. As Annie (Lynda Steadman) embarks on a train trip to reunite with her old friend, she is flooded with memories of their rocky introduction in the mid-80's: a shy, introverted teenager who continuously breaks out in a nervous rash, she moves in with Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge), a bright fellow student who is manic, hilariously funny, and occasionally cruel. It is apparent from the outset that both young women are bound to benefit from the budding friendship and their contrasting personalities, with Annie toughening up and learning to deal with life's hard knocks and Hannah learning to hold her tongue and become more compassionate.
Back to the present, Annie departs the train to meet Hannah, and not without a bit of apprehension. Looking around the station for her old friend, Annie is startled, then delighted to see a subdued, sophisticated, thirty-year old version of Hannah approaching her. Thus begins their reunion weekend which will stir up many old memories and inspire them to re-evaluate not just their friendship, but their lives.
As with all of Mike Leigh's films, CAREER GIRLS features extraordinary acting, with Katrin Cartlidge giving a star-making comedic performance and Lynda Steadman, in her feature film debut, proving herself to be another major Leigh discovery, in the tradition of, among others, David Thewlis and Cartlidge in NAKED, and Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in SECRETS & LIES. Also outstanding are three actors who play the men they encounter earlier in their lives and over the reunion weekend, including Mark Benton as their sad, awkward friend; Joe Tucker as an old acquaintance who once broke both their hearts; and, in a hilarious turn, Andy Serkis as an obnoxious yuppie, attempting to unload his apartment -- and himself -- on the friends.